CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Capital runner Peyton Panger pushes past the pain with work ethic and talent few athletes possess, to reach success even fewer achieve.
Panger, a sophomore, ranks among the state's best Class AAA girls in each long-distance track event. Despite her youth, she represents one of the most talented and hardest working runners in the sport.
"She's just driven to win, basically," Cougars Coach Willie Ruffin said. "She has that drive. She only lost once and I think that kind of tore her up, made her a little mad, so it'll be hard for her to lose again."
That attitude certainly presented when Panger described her work regimen that consists of 400-meter repeats and running mile after mile with short recovery times, among other strenuous training.
"You get the feeling of 'I'm tired, but I have to keep going, and I have to keep hitting target times.' " Panger said. "If I do mile repeats that running a hard mile and then turning around and running another one. It's the feeling that 'Oh, I can't do this. Oh, I'm so tired,' but then you have to turn around and say 'Oh, yes you can. Get up and work at this.' "
Panger, a standout cross country runner as well, said she's applied a lot of work to her shorter distance training this spring in order to increase her speed.
"I think I'm a lot stronger in the mile this year than I've ever been," she said. "I think it's the speed that I've really unlocked and realized that 'Hey, I actually can put one foot in front of the other a little faster than I thought.' "
At the 2012 state track and field championship, Panger placed third in the 3,200-meter run (two-mile), fifth in the 1,600 (mile) and 13th in the 800. This year, Panger, one of the team's long-distance co-captains, ranks second in the mile and fifth in the two-mile for girls Class AAA, according to www.runwv.com
A different attitude and approach has been the key to this year's results, Ruffin said.
"She's come into this season more relaxed than she has in the past," he said. "She's been working with some of our sprinters. She has a lot more speed than she has had in the past."